Spotlight Mission Beach
  |  First Published: October 2013

Mission Beach is a tropical holiday destination between Townsville and Cairns that is known for its world-heritage rainforests, idyllic beaches, island getaways, adventure activities and amazing fishing.

Mission Beach, with its resident population of about 4,000, is 165km south of Cairns and 235km north of Townsville. Its four villages – Bingil Bay, Mission Beach, Wongaling Beach and South Mission Beach – are linked by 14km of palm-fringed beaches.

The tourist destination enjoys a warm tropical climate with temperatures up around 26ºC in the Australian winter (the dry season of May to October) and 30ºC in the wet season (November to April).

Mission Beach offers an excellent array of accommodation from luxury resorts and upmarket holiday homes to secluded rainforest retreats and well-appointed bed and breakfasts. The tourist destination caters for romantic getaways, family holidays, birdwatchers, backpackers, adventure travellers, campers, caravanners and most importantly anglers.

Mission Beach offers a vast array of activities ranging from eco-friendly tours such as Great Barrier Reef trips and sea kayaking trips to extreme sports including tandem skydiving and white-water rafting.

A good range of services and shopping facilities are available including two supermarkets, a hardware store, medical centre, pharmacy and library. Cafes and restaurants feature local tropical produce.

Dunk Island is a 10-minute boat ride from Mission Beach. There are other islands close by.

Mission Beach is home to the endangered cassowary – a majestic bird that lives within the surrounding world heritage rainforest. Walks through the rainforest are another popular pastime for tourists.

The area produces an amazing array of rare and exotic tropical fruits and these can be sampled at the weekly tastings held at the Mission Beach Visitor Information Centre.


After the timber cutters came to the area over a century ago, farmers who introduced, amongst others, coffee, tea, bamboo, and mango plantations moved the area forward. The remnants can still be seen today. The difficulty in shipping produce to markets, combined with a devastating cyclone in 1918, led to a general demise in farming until a road to the area was built in 1936.

The fate of the indigenous Aboriginal inhabitants was similarly afflicted. Initially the white farmers used them as a cheap labour source but later they came to prefer working for Chinese employers, who would often pay in opium. This caused resentment towards the workers by the white settlers. It also led to the establishment of the Hull River Mission in 1914 (from where Mission Beach derives its name), which was destroyed by the 1918 cyclone.

These days Mission Beach is a tourism destination with small-scale farming and some larger scale farming of sugar cane and bananas in the area. But with a tropical climate that simply invited visitors year round, it is now tourism that is the main driver for Mission Beach, and once you’ve visited once, you’ll be back again and again.

What to do

Luckily Mission Beach is surrounded by fishy options. Less than an hour in any direction will see you having the chance to tangle with the secretive and elusive jungle perch, the icon of the north, the barramundi or chasing down a billfish or mackerel offshore. It really is an angler’s paradise.

It is the bluewater, reef and barra fishing that really attracts anglers to Mission Beach. In a day you could literally chase barra and jacks in the rivers, head offshore for a spot of mackerel trolling and then head a little wider still for some of the country’s best reef fishing. Mission Beach is the access hub for all of this activity and with town facilities that have everything an angler and boater could require, it makes sense that Mission Beach should be squarely in the viewfinder for those travelling north.

But it’s not all fishing. Being a major tourism area, Mission Beach has hundreds of other activities. From the fast pace of skydiving with a beach landing to simply sitting and watching the sunrise over Dunk Island, Mission Beach has it all. Nature-based tourism is at the heart of the area, with the famous Mission Beach Tropical Fruit Safari through to whale watching in season, there is something for everyone.

Need to cool off? No worries as you can visit the freshwater reaches of the beautiful rainforest streams and take a refreshing dip safe in the knowledge that they are crocodile-free.

Want more action? Take on the challenge of white water rafting in the Tully River.

Want to be on the water? Grab a hire boat, take a charter or simply bring your own.

The list of activities is as long as you want it to be and some activities you may or may not decide to participate in are sea kayaking, jet skiing, scuba diving, snorkelling, hiking, croc spotting or sailing: It’s all there for you.

Where to stay

There are accommodation options to cater to all levels in and around Mission Beach.

If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle you can check into one of the low key Council run parks and plant yourself in front of a million dollar view for less than $20 a night. At the other end of the scale you can also access full resort-style accommodation at affordable prices – again with a million dollar view.

There are bed and breakfasts, caravan parks, en-suite cabins, hotels and motels, self-contained units and holiday houses aplenty. If you’re young and ready for fun, there is a place for you to stay. If you’re older and wiser, there’s a place for you to stay. If you’ve got the family in tow, there are places to stay in abundance.

Mission Beach really is set up to cater to the holiday-maker, whatever holiday they want to experience.

Get there

Mission Beach is one of the places that simply needs to be experienced. And not on a short 2-3 day trip. Mission Beach deserves at least a week simply so you can unwind and get into the feel of the whole area. Fun, slow, adrenalin pumping, very fishy and filled with exceptional people, Mission Beach is what you want it to be and there simply are not that many places left where that can be said with any confidence.

• I’d like to thank the team at the Mission Beach Wet Tropics Visitor Information Centre for their assistance in putting this Spotlight feature together. I’d also like to acknowledge the wonderful people at Castaways at Mission Beach (www.castaways.com.au) for the amazing accommodation and Dean and Carla from The Tinnie Shack (www.thetinnieshack.com.au) for their support and drive. – Stephen Booth, Editor


Visitor Infromation Centre

Mission Beach Wet Tropics Visitor Information Centre is located on Porter Promenade, Mission Beach. Off road parking is available.

The centre has a wide range of local and regional information and offers a free booking service for accommodation and tours.

The Visitor Centre is adjacent to the C4 Environment Centre, which has excellent rainforest and cassowary displays.

Opening times are from 9am – 5pm, seven days a week. Contact details are 07 4068 7099, www.missionbeachtourism.com or email, --e-mail address hidden--

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